for the dogs
by Carie Broecker
For those of us who know Gina Wolf, we can’t imagine doing rescue work without her in the mix. Gina is a passionate dog lover who plays an important role with multiple local animal welfare organizations. She is humble and inspiring and tireless in her efforts to save more and more lives.
Gina grew up in Nebraska with no pets of her own. She knew early on that she loved dogs and volunteered to take care of neighborhood dogs so she could be in their company. She married Chad Wolf in 1990 and moved to California. Gina was in college at the time. She had two goals: graduate, and then adopt a dog.
Two months after graduation, Chad and Gina adopted Lucky, a 16-month old tan Chihuahua with behavior issues. Gina was drawn to Lucky because she knew he would have a hard time getting adopted. The Wolf’s home would be his fourth. Although there were challenges, they were committed to making their home Lucky’s forever home, which they did for the next 17 years.
Gina, Chad and Lucky moved to Salinas in the year 2000. Gina found stray after stray on the streets of Salinas. They would take them in, look for their guardians with little success, get them altered and healthy, and find homes for them. After two years of doing rescue on her own with Chad, Gina started volunteering as a foster parent with Animal Friends Rescue Project (AFRP) in Pacific Grove. She and Chad have fostered well over 50 dogs.
In the early days, she couldn’t bring herself to go to the shelters. Then she started transporting dogs from the shelters to vet clinics for AFRP.
She started watching the shelter websites to see which dogs needed help. She went to the shelters to get to know the dogs. Then she started advocating for the dogs. She would alert local rescues to get them to safety. When the local rescues were full, she started reaching out to groups all over the state and then all over the country and even into Canada. Networking dogs is second nature to her now.
Once she finds a reputable group willing to take a dog or two or more, that is only half the battle. Next she has to figure out how to get the dog to them. Sometimes she can find ground transportation amongst a large network of volunteers; sometimes she coordinates with pilots or commercial airlines to fly them out. At the time of our interview, she was working on the logistics of getting 16 dogs from Salinas to Victoria Island off of British Columbia.
Anything to save a life. Nothing is impossible. There always has to be a way. This is what she tells herself. Over and over.
Gina is an active volunteer with AFRP, Peace of Mind Dog Rescue, Salinas Animal Services, and Pug Rescue of Sacramento. She leads offsite adoption events, finalizes adoptions, mentors and trains new foster adopters, does dog assessments, photographs dogs, takes video of dogs, and does home checks to approve new foster homes and adopters. She is also one of the founders of Chihuahua Pride Day, and she is liaison to Mayor Gunther for the Salinas Animal Services Advisory Committee. Gina is one busy, dedicated lady!
Gina says she loves the staff and volunteers at the shelters and rescues she works with, but she does not enjoy going to the shelters. She never gets used to seeing so many animals in need. She doesn’t want to get used to it. She wants to help change it. The little faces stick with her until they are safe. She often has a hard time sleeping until they are safe, but as soon as one of the dogs in need makes it into rescue, into a foster home, into an adoptive home, or onto a transport, it is all worthwhile every time.